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Equality on tatami, leadership and self-confidence were the key points of the Aikido Gender Day that was celebrated in Nederlands, with the participation of practicioners, both women and men, from Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Norway and, of course, The Netherlands.

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The day started with a beautiful 3-hour training session, conducted by 3 female instructors: Satomi Ishikawa (NAF), Caroline Bied-Charreton (NAF) and Renata Jocic (Swiss Aikikai). All of them felt comfortable to teach in their own way, while referring to the common themes of the event: equality on the tatami, leadership, integration and self confidence.

Practitioners from different federations and countries were eager to learn what was presented on tatami, and they enjoyed to work and sweat together with a smile. By the time the training session was over, harmony and shared feelings were spread within the group of more than 50 people.

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The second part of the event included a workshop and a forum and it went on during the afternoon of the same day, the 12th of March 2017. The main theme of these moments was “leadership”.

Anita Paalvast (NAF) conducted the workshop that explored the topic on the mat in relation to daily life and work, through the lens of feminine and masculine qualities, which everyone carries. The two plates of the balance are not always in line so the activities in the workshop shed some light on the matter. Aikido movements were introduced to examine the mentioned qualities at different levels. Afterwards, some thoughtful discussions closed the workshop.

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The forum centered on the original topic - How to promote and increase the number of high ranking female teachers and also female board members? A video message featuring Lilamani de Soysa from Tsukuba University, Japan, who set the format of the Takasaki forum last autumn, was played at the beginning of this part of the event, to celebrate and encourage the issue to be continued. Jose Otte (NAF), Cathrien de Pater (NAF) and Stasa Pisek (Slovenian Aikikai) presented their views on the topic, which were followed by group discussions. The event was closed by Wilko Vriesman, the IAF General Secretary and the NAF Chairman.

As a recall, it can be pointed out that the Gender Balance Working Group was established within the IAF, in line with the Takasaki Declaration, that was announced in October 2016, during the 12th IAF Congress. This Gender Day, organized in The Netherlands, was the first event to be implemented by the working group, in order to promote gender equality in Aikido. NAF, the Dutch member federation of the IAF, was the one to offer to host this first endeavor at Papendal, the Dutch National Sport Centrum in Arnhem.

Subsequent events will be hosted by different countries in the following years, to continue the work and spread the message that was asserted in Takasaki.

Photo credit: Aikido Insight

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